KARACHI, July 1: The police, on Monday, announced the arrest of Akram Lahori, chief of a banned religious group along with his four accomplices, for their alleged involvement in sectarian killings, including that of the brother of the interior minister.
Addressing a press conference at the Driving Licence Branch auditorium, the Inspector General of Police, Sindh, Syed Kamal Shah, said that Mohammad Ajmal alias Akram Lahori, aged 39, was the Salaar (supreme commander) of the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi after Riaz Basra was killed in an encounter with the police in Punjab.
He said: “Our investigation wing working under supervision of the SSP Investigation Property-I, Zubair Mehmood, arrested Akram Lahori with his accomplices on June 29 in Defence Housing Authority.” Tasadduq Hussain alias Shaikh, Ataullah alias Qasim, Mohammad Azam alias Sharif, and Anwar alias Usman Baloch were also arrested with Akram Lahori, following the recovery of two Kalashnikov rifles and three TT pistols.
“Akram Lahori was produced in court and the police have obtained his remand for 14 days,” he added.
Looking fresh, cool and calm, Akram Lahori, who was produced before the press, admitted his involvement in sectarian killings and said: “I have no regrets about what I have done.”
Akram, clad in a shalwar kameez suit, said he came to Karachi a year back and hired a house some eight months back in Mehmoodabad where he lived alone. About his arrest, he said: “I was picked up between the night of Friday and Saturday from Mehmoodabad. I don’t remember the date of arrest.” He said that he had joined Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan in 1990.
He said that he was earlier arrested in Punjab, but had been released as the police failed to identify him. He said that he was also stopped by the police during snap-checking several times in Karachi who failed to recognize him as Akram Lahori because he had an identity card in the name of Khalid.
About his successor, he said that now the group would work at city-level in different cities of the country and not on a national level. Therefore, there was no question of a next Salaar, he added.
The provincial police chief, Kamal Shah, said that Akram Lahori was born in Digri, Mirpurkhas, after which his family moved to Punjab where Akram graduated from the Punjab University. During the course of his studies, Akram had a dispute with the students of the Shia community there and since then he harboured a grudge against them. He joined a religious organization in 1990, after which Akram, along with Riaz Basra and Ishaque Malik, formed Lashkar-i-Jhangvi in 1996 in Punjab.
He said Akram Lahori was involved in sectarian killings since 1990, and was wanted by both the Sindh and Punjab governments. Both the governments had announced a reward money of Rs2.5 million each for Akram Lahori’s arrest. He was involved in 38 cases of heinous nature in Karachi. Akram told the police that he was involved in 30 criminal cases in Punjab.
Kamal Shah said Akram was steadfast in his mission as he had established a training camp in Sarobi, Afghanistan. Akram had also raised funds for his group, he added.
He said: “From the investigations conducted so far, we don’t believe Akram Lahori was involved in the car bombing outside the US consulate.”
Giving details of the involvement of Akram Lahori and his accomplices in criminal cases, the IG said that they were involved in the killing of Ehteshamuddin Haider, brother of interior minister, Moinuddin Haider; Managing Director, Pakistan State Oil, Shaukat Mirza; Dr Rashid Mehdi, Dr Aley Safdar Zaidi; the principal of Jamia Millia Institute, Syed Zafar Zaidi; Agha Abbas of Agha Juice Centre and others.
In Punjab, he was also involved in various criminal cases including killing of 24 people at Mominpura, Lahore; 11 in Imambargah Najaf, Pir Wadhai, Rawalpindi; DSP Tariq Kambo in Lahore and others, he added.
Referring to terrorism incidents, the IG said that for the past couple of years, the country faced terrorism incidents due to which a lot of precious lives were lost. It created a sense of insecurity among the people and known personalities and doctors of the Shia community started leaving Karachi. The sense of insecurity was not only in Karachi but it was also felt abroad among Pakistani citizens, he added.
The terrorism incidents also had a bad effect on Karachi’s economy, which is the backbone of the country, as the recession of economic activities in Karachi is tantamount to deterioration in the economy of the country, he said.
Akram Lahori and his accomplices, the IG said, used to target prominent personalities to create terror in the society and to make the government feel helpless.
He said that terrorism incidents suddenly increased in the year 2001, and the Sindh government reorganized the police to subdue criminal elements. “The arrest of Akram Lahori and his accomplices is a big success and will have a far-reaching effect,” he said.